Pet Poisons From A to Z — 26 Common Items That Are Dangerous to Cats and Dogs

Dangerous bottle
Thinkstock

It can happen to even the best pet owners. You turn around for one second and the dog is into the chocolate that was sitting on the counter, or the cat has discovered the Easter lily you thought was safely out of the way. 

“We just don’t realize how determined our pets are to eat the things they shouldn’t,” says Dr. Tina Wismer, DVM, medical director for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

Of the more than 180,000 cases that the organization handled in 2012, most of them involved pets who'd ingested human prescriptions. “Many children with ADHD don’t want to take their medications, so they leave pills on their plates, where pets can get at them,” Dr. Wismer says. “Even nonprescription medications, such as ibuprofen, can be a problem because many brands have a sweet coating, so it’s like candy for dogs.”

As part of National Poison Prevention Week (March 17-23), Vetstreet has compiled an A to Z list of some common pet poisons that should be on your radar. This list is not all-inclusive, so for more information on these and many other toxins, check out the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center website and talk with your vet.

Washing machine detergent
Thinkstock
  • Acetaminophen, which is found in Tylenol and other medications, can cause liver damage in dogs. Cats are even more sensitive: Ingestion of a single 325 mg tablet by a 10-pound cat can cause anemia and even be fatal. Toxicity Ranking: moderate to severe.
  • Batteries can be toxic to both dogs and cats, leading to ulcers in the mouth, esophagus and stomach. Toxicity Ranking: moderate to severe.
  • Chocolate can cause seizures and death in dogs and cats. Darker chocolate, such as unsweetened baker’s chocolate, is more toxic than milk or white chocolate. Even cocoa bean mulch, when eaten in large quantities, can be a problem. Toxicity Ranking: moderate to severe.
  • Detergents and fabric softener sheets can cause ulcers in the mouth, esophagus and stomach in dogs and cats. Toxicity Ranking: mild to moderate.
  • Ethylene glycol is found in antifreeze, windshield de-icing agents and motor oils. Dogs and cats are attracted to its sweet taste, but as little as a teaspoon in cats or a tablespoon in dogs can cause kidney failure. Recently, antifreeze and engine coolant manufacturers have agreed to voluntarily add bittering agents to reduce the products’ appeal to pets and children. Toxicity Ranking: severe to fatal.
  • Fertilizers can contain poisonous amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, iron, zinc, herbicides and pesticides. Keep dogs and cats away from treated lawns until they are dry. Check the product packaging, though, since some products must be rinsed into the lawn before it is safe to walk on. Toxicity Ranking: mild to moderate.
  • Grapes, raisins and currants — even grape juice — in small amounts can cause kidney failure in dogs. Toxicity Ranking: moderate to severe.
  • Household cleaners, such as bleach, drain cleaners, ammonia and toilet bowl cleaners, can cause gastrointestinal ulcers and other problems in dogs and cats. Toxicity Ranking: varies.
  • Insecticides in flea and tick products can cause problems if not used according to labels. Insecticides that are meant for dogs can cause severe toxicity in cats, leading to signs such as vomiting, seizures and difficulty breathing. Products intended for treating the yard or house should not be used on pets. Toxicity Ranking: mild to severe.
Google+

Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!